(RxWiki News) Women's quality of life can be heavily impacted by uterine issues. And African-American women could be especially affected.
A recent study was conducted to see if uterine fibroids affected African-American women differently than white women. Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors on the uterine muscle that are the most common reason women undergo hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus.)
The researchers found that the African-American women reported having more severe symptoms, more limitations during everyday activities and an overall larger impact on their quality of life compared to the white women. The findings also showed that the African-American women were most concerned about being able to have successful future pregnancies.
The researchers concluded that African-American women in the study were significantly more affected by uterine fibroids, had unique health concerns and used different methods to seek out health information than the white women.
"Tell your gynecologist how uterine fibroids are affecting your daily life."
The lead author of this study was Elizabeth A. Stewart, MD, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Department of Surgery at the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota.
The researchers surveyed 841 women from the United States between the ages of 25 and 59 who had self-reported symptomatic uterine fibroids. There were 268 African-American women and 573 white women.
There were no significant differences in education level, employment status or overall health status within the group. To be included in the study, the participants had to have uterine fibroids for the two years prior to the study, and could not be pregnant or breastfeeding or have undergone a previous hysterectomy.
All participants took an online survey between December 1, 2011 and January 16, 2012. The survey asked the participants to self-report demographic data (age, education, marital status, number of children, geographic location, etc.), as well as specific symptoms, the severity of symptoms, effect on relationships and employment concerns.
The researchers found that the African-American women, on average, were significantly younger, had lower incomes, had different marital statuses and were from differing geographic locations compared to the white women. The African-American women were also found to have a higher occurrence of symptoms.
The African-American women were found to be twice as likely as the white women to experience abdominal bloating, pressure and protrusion. They were found to be three times more likely to have anemia (low iron in the blood.)
The findings also revealed that the African-American women were 51 percent more likely to have a heavy or overly-long menstrual cycle, 80 percent more likely to experience bad menstrual cramps, 67 percent more likely to have passage clots during their period and 79 percent more likely to experience abdominal tightness or cramping.
African-American women were twice as likely to have their condition interfere with their relationships with family and friends compared to the white women. In addition, the African-American women were 77 percent more likely to miss workdays due to their condition.
Overall, the African-American women were 74 percent more likely to have their daily social activities affected by uterine fibroids.
The researchers discovered that the African-American women were twice as likely to be concerned that the condition would affect their ability to have a successful pregnancy in the future, and three times as likely to be concerned about how treatment would affect fertility.
The researchers found that 36 percent of the African-American women, compared to 22 percent of the white women, were likely to consult friends and family for health information. Likewise, 32 percent of the African-American women, compared to 18 percent of the white women, were likely to consult health brochures.
Ultimately, the African-American women reported that uterine fibroids had a much larger impact on their quality of life compared to the white women, thus the African-American women also had different health concerns and preferences than their white counterparts.
The authors noted some limitations of their study.
First, there was some selection bias because the women participated in an online survey, so the participants were limited to those who had Internet access. Second, all information — including diagnosis of uterine fibroids — was self-reported. Lastly, the researchers did not use the full extent of the standard quality of life test.
This study was published online ahead-of-print in September in the Journal of Women's Health.
Fibroid Relief, a program of the nonprofit Focused Ultrasound Foundation in Charlottesville, Virginia, provided funding for the survey.